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The type of classic album that takes a little while to fully unravel its mastery. Some albums you hear, and they instantly click and compel you. If such an album doesn't grow stale after repeated listens, you usually deem it as 'good' or 'great', or in some cases, 'classic.' This album has grown into an absolute favorite of mine, but it's the kind of sound that slowly creeps into your mind, and slowly revels its greatness. This, in a way, almost makes the album stick with you a little more. I was initially drawn to this band by their name, years ago, but assumed they were another sloppy Canadian band occupying the stagnant 'war' metal slew and wouldn't have much to offer. Well, that's an entirely incorrect assumption, because this band offers a lot more than just about ninety percent of their peers, in all genres. This is raw, bestial, molten 'war' metal, infused with touches of folky melody and elaborate song structures verging on the progressive, whilst sparsely shading it in the effervescent darkness of noise and power electronics.
So, if there's one word to astutely depict this album, it would be 'monolithic.' Yes; this album is massive. For something so raw and abrasive, Mito certainly conflate the primal savagery of their 'war' metal background with many interesting things, both in songwriting and tone. From the very beginning of the unsettling "Chapter 11" which opens this album, each song on this album feels very much like a 'chapter.' I'm not sure if this is a concept album, but even if it's not, there's still something very engaging about the album's craft and order. It's interesting to hear how effective the album begins with "Into the Pit of Babel"; a song which I believes represents Mitochondrion's music scope well. Beginning with a barrage of sincere and sardonic riffing that carries a mood of terror, before plundering into a calm melodic section (one of the most beautiful you'll hear) and then back into the chaos, Archaeaeon is almost like a quest that takes many turns; this gives it the depth it has, and it reflects the multi-faceted character of the album as it becomes a sprawling, eleven-limbed beast.
Over these eleven tracks, there exists a vast accumulation of feelings, but it's all firmly entrenched in a shroud of beastly force. The sound on these tracks is downright intense, and even beyond that, it's intimidating (both in its creativity, as well as its animus abrasiveness.) This is partially due to the tandem of Nick and Shawn's severely menacing vocals. Nick possesses a bestial, gutteral roar similar to Jason Oliver, though perhaps sounding even a little more spirited. Shawn matches behind him, with deep, impish shrieks; and although it's usually Nick dominating the mic, there are times where they share vocal duties simultaneously and it actually sounds like a duo of two of Hell's meanest demons lashing out from the madness.
But beyond that, these songs all contain an acclamation of different speeds, moods and breaks in style, that gives each song a unique identity, but also staying close to the thematic stylings of other songs; giving this that perfect mix of consistency and variety that so many bands fail to effectively weave into their works. Equally impressive is the fact that the three longest tracks here are the most engaging and gripping on the album. Mito are almost a band that need to write lengthy tracks, because the output of their ideas expands to such a large degree. The shorter tracks aren't what you'd call dispensable, but at times I imagine what could have been, had the band combined tracks like "Agonizing" with "Infernal Weapons Summons". But with three smashing epics, the back-to-back combination of "Descent" and "Wraithlike" and plenty of Shawn's brooding, visceral riffs in between, you soon stop caring how long tracks on this album are. The band fluctuates from speedy dissonance to sharp, angular harmonic melody, to vexatious (in a good way, obviously) staccatos and folky passages alongside dark, cavernous power electronic noise, among other things, within the span of about two songs. And it continues until you've endured the path of Archaeaeon. It's an immense and foreboding listen, that for me, became a journey, until it ended after over an hour. For many, this will be a puzzling, polarizing work, if not only for the production. It's characteristic of that commonplace 'war' metal mix; thin, tinny guitars slightly faded from the loud thundering drums and vocals. However, seeing as I sometimes enjoy very fucked-up production, I seem to find this album's production suitable in a way. I do wish the guitars had more punch, but as it is; it still feels grainy and cavernous. It will probably take effort into wrapping your psyche around all this album does, if not only for its rigid production, but when the finality of it is realized, Archaeaeon will shift into the shape of a masterwork.
I have to give some credit here, it's not every day I hear an album so disturbing it can frighten me, yet still having an air of melodic grace. Archaeaeon is one such album, and this is one fucked up band. The Canadians offer a debut of brutal death and black metal where the rules are pretty much anything goes.
For much of the playtime, it's dense and dark death metal with multiple snarl and growl vocals over a grinding miasma of aural holocaust: brutal drumming and savage guitars. But they have moments where this ellipses into melody, or acoustics, or dark, swelling ambient. A few examples would be the center of "Into the Pit of Babel", where things slow to a crawl and the guttural vocals and snarl paint a sad mural over some acoustics and simpler drumming, before erupting into a vile blackish riff and spooky whispered vocals. "Oath in Defiance" morphs into "Descent...", a dark, minimal ambient piece which would do Mortiis proud until the doom guitars and horrific vocals layer on.
Be prepared for a very dark ride with this one, but a captivating journey nonetheless. I was at times reminded of dISEMBOWELMENT, Demilich, and early Septic Flesh, at others the wealth of bedroom black metal out there. The album has a very DIY production to it but honestly, that's the way to do something like this. Anyway, it ruined a perfectly cheery afternoon for me and I hope it can do the same for you.
After hearing Mitochondrion's music from their Myspace page and seeing them live twice, I was persistent in finding a way to hear some of their better recordings. I had some old demo songs which were good, but as some of the riffs are moderately technical and somewhat advanced, a solid recording is always the key. Then I borrowed this full-length when it came out from a friend and after hearing it three times over, I realized that Mitochondrion had read my mind entirely the whole time.
The guitar riffs featured here are diversified and varied, which is a win for new death metal bands, especially of this specific sub-genre. There is never at any time a lack of musical fundamentalism and good metal song structures. Whenever there's a slow part lacking in the song, the last riff in the song destroys you and dooms you in. Then there's the bass. Not in a single moment do I not enjoy the low-end brutality of these songs. It also adds incredible power to slower parts.
What I enjoy the most from the recording is the drumming. Consistent, but not boring use of the double kick patterns with lots of thrown-off variation to spice it up. Every time there's a snare fill it just dominates the entire sound of the recordings. The title can also be applied to the drumming - nothing but absolute chaos and Mitochondrion's drummer surely brings it in. I think these guys should keep the guy, I'm sure most new-age death metal bands would jump at the chance to snatch him.
In general, I am not a big fan of newer death metal; It's far too complex, very repetitive, and flat out boring. Surprisingly enough, this is the opposite in many ways. It's complex, but structure finely with original musicianship, It's not repetitive at all, especially in comparison with the run-of-the-mill goregrind death metal whatever band. And in conclusion, not boring at all. I have acquired my own copy since then and still spin it regularly.
This is the first full-length album from Mitochondrion, a Canadian band playing technical black/death metal.
The sound on Archaeaeon is slightly murky, with a ton of low-end (enhanced by the ultra-low lead vocals) and thundering guitars and bass. A second, black-metal style vocalist adds variety to the atmosphere, as does the varied, nimble drumming. The latter lends a great deal of power to the blasting parts, making them a lot more interesting than those of most bands.
Mitochondrion's riffing and overall sound are utterly extreme -- this record sounds a bit like "Altars of Madness" with somebody playing early Cryptopsy over the top of it! The sheer sonic assault barely lets up, burying the listener under a mountain of chaotic heaviness. That said, the individual songs are quite coherent, and there's a lot of melody to be found, for those willing to listen closely. For example, "...Into the Pit of Babel" features acoustic guitar and some great back-and-forth between the two vocalists. "Wraithlike" is an epic, with fast and mid-paced parts that sandwich a couple of wonderful doom sections in the middle. The instrumental work during the latter half is exceptional. "137 (Death's Hendecaratia)" is even longer, at nearly fourteen minutes, and represents Mitochondrion at its doomiest. The crushing weight of this song creates an atmosphere of total oppression, like gathering thunder or the depths of some extraterrestrial ocean. The closing few minutes are a bit too industrial for my taste, though.
There are straightforward songs as well: "Agonizing (In the Shadow of the Hammerblow)" is one of my favorites, with some bombastic lead work and aggressive pick-slide abuse. "Infernal Weapons Summons" is another great example of Mitochondrion's attack. The drumming here seems to be in three places at once, and the vocals are completely insane! The attention to songwriting and atmosphere on this album is top-notch, and makes each song quite memorable.
My only complaint is that there's almost too much here -- at over an hour, this is a substantial slab of chaos, one that's a bit much to take all in one bite. In fact, "Archaeaeon" could have easily been split into two albums! That makes it a hell of a deal for those into this kind of metal. Fans of insane Canadian bands like Revenge, Axis of Advance, and Warmarch should get this record. Recommended.
Standout tracks: "Agonizing (In the Shadow of the Hammerblow)", "Infernal Weapons Summons", "Wraithlike"
Review by vorfeed: http://www.vorfeed.net